Wellness Wednesday: Back to school means back to sleep for kids

SALT LAKE CITY - The new backpack is packed, the new clothes are laid out, and the pencils are sharpened. But if you want a successful school year, make sure you’ve also adjusted your child’s sleep schedule.

Sleep at night impacts what happens during the day in the classroom. Dr. Kevin Walker, a sleep medicine specialist at Intermountain Healthcare says when you’re sleeping is when your body and mind have a chance to recover.

Even just 25 minutes less sleep per night can lead to not only insufficient rest, but lower grades, fatigue, and concentration problems in kids and teens. Long term effects of not getting enough sleep could lead to depression, emotional issues, and chronic health problems.

How much sleep should children get?

  • Preschool (ages three to five): 10-13 hours
  • Elementary School (ages six to 13): 9-11 hours
  • High School (ages 14 – 17): 8-10 hours

Signs your child may need more sleep?

  • Yawning
  • Irritability
  • Falling asleep at school
  • Hard to get moving in the morning
  • Hyperactivity

How to improve your child’s sleep?

  • Develop a calming bedtime ritual
  • Stick with a consistent bedtime
  • Take electronics and other distractions out of the bedroom
  • No caffeine 12 hours or more before bed.
  • Check the temperature and light of the room. Typically, a cooler and darker room helps with sleep.
  • Mom & Dad set a good example and mirror healthy sleep schedules

If you suspect a larger issue, talk to your pediatrician or family practice doctor. They can refer you to a specialist if needed.

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